Background: The literature suggests an association between poor school performance and obesity. However, little is known about academic achievement and behavior as possible risk factors for future obesity. Method: The analysis was based on data from 3172 participants aged 6 to 25 years from the US National Longitudinal Survey conducted 1986 to 2010. Academic achievement, behavior problems and body mass index (BMI) were assessed at childhood (6-9) and teenhood (10-14). Height and weight were self-reported at pre-young adulthood (15-18) and young adulthood (19-25). Results: Based on logistic regression stratified by sex and race/ethnicity, academic and behavioral deficiencies during childhood and teenhood were risk factors for young adult obesity with some sex and ethnic/racial differences. The highest prevalence rates of obesity by race/ethnicity and sex are as follows: black/Hispanic females, those in the lowest quartile of teen reading and math (32.8%); black/Hispanic males, those in lowest quartile of teen reading (26.1%); white males, those in the highest quartile of behavioral problems (21.9%); and white females, those in the lowest quartile teen math (23.2%). Conclusion: Poor school performance in childhood and teenhood is associated with an increased risk of adult obesity. Prospective studies should further examine the association of school performance and adult obesity and whether programs directed at improving school performance may have secondary gains in preventing obesity.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
- Young adult